Tuesday, May 3, 2011

‘Hatteras Girl’ by Alice J. Wisler – Book Review

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I love it when I am introduced to authors on Facebook. Such is the case with Alice J. Wisler. I am a friend of hers on Facebook. I am also a friend of her boxer, Levi, who has his own page on Facebook. After reading her posts – and his! – I knew I had to read her latest novel, ‘Hatteras Girl’!

Here is the synopsis of this novel:

Fall in love with Alice J. Wisler’s charming characters in this delightful story set in the beach communities of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
Jackie Donovan prays for two things: an honest, wonderful man to marry and to own a bed-and-breakfast on the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina. In the meantime, she works for Lighthouse Views, writing articles about local business owners, and intrepidly goes on the blind dates set up by her well-meaning but oh-so-clueless relatives.
There’s one specific property Jackie dreams of purchasing: The Bailey Home, a fabulous old home located right next to the ocean, a place where Jackie spent many happy childhood afternoons. But the Bailey House has strange stories and secrets surrounding it – not to mention its outrageous price tag.
When Jackie meets handsome Davis Erickson, who holds the keys to the Bailey property, she believes God has answered both her prayers. But as Jackie learns some disturbing details about Davis’s past, she begins to wonder if her heart has lead her astray. Will she risk her long-held dreams to find out the truth?  

Here is the biography of this author:

Alice J. Wisler was born and raised in Japan as a missionary kid. She majored in social work After graduating from Canadian Academy, an international high school in Kobe, Japan, she got her BS in Social Work from Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia and has worked across the U.S. in that field.  She taught ESL (English as a Second Language) in Japan and at a refugee camp in the Philippines.  She also studied Spanish at a language institute in San Jose, Costa Rica.  She’s enjoyed staying at a number of bed and breakfasts in the South, in Japan, and in England, and would secretly like to run one if it just wasn’t so much work. The Outer Banks is one of her favorite vacation destinations. Currently, she lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband, Carl, and three children, Rachel, Benjamin, and Elizabeth plus dogs. In memory of her son Daniel, she gives online grief-writing courses, designs remembrance cards, and speaks across the country in Writing the Heartache. She is also the author of Rain Song and How Sweet It Is.

Alice’s next book, ‘A Wedding Invitation,’ is coming in October, 2011.

I really love the title character, Jackie Donovan. She is fun and lively! Here she is musing about why things are the way they are:

When Betty Lynn leaves, my mind wanders to wondering why we label folks with money as successful. I think about how God must rate our success and decide it has to be on much different terms. Jesus chose twelve disciples to hang out with, and had they lived today. I don’t think any of their names would appear in Fortune 500 magazine. (p. 11)

Good point!

She views the world from her spiritual and God-loving perspective. Here she wonders about how God sees us:

There are those who say God can do anything, and I believe it. I’ve never doubted that He hears our prayers, even the selfish and lame ones. Ever since I was little I’ve held awe for God. “He made the sea and all that’s in it,” my Sunday school teacher told our first-grade class.
But today I do not understand how God can stand all the chaos and confusion in this world and not be overwhelmed that He could just want to weep, and then step down here to gather his people and cradle us all the way home to heaven. (p. 104)

I love the deep friendship between Jackie and her housemate, Minnie. Here is a neat memory:

I remember Minnie telling me about her ideal wedding gown while we sat next to a mermaid in the back garden. She wanted a white satin dress trimmed in dolphin sequins and pink rosebuds. Years later, when she married at age twenty-one, she opted for a satin dress trimmed in lace, laughing at her childish dream.
We all gave her glass dolphins and pink roses anyway. (p. 194)

Another favorite character is Jackie’s brother’s friend, Buck. Here he is reflecting on how our heart’s desires change over time:

“….I really wanted to get into this art school about two years ago before I started working at the Grille. I applied and waited. But when the acceptance letter arrived, my heart had done some changing so that being molded by God was far more exciting than the acceptance.” He reached for his drink.
“Okay….” I’m not sure where Buck is going with this topic.
He takes a sip of his chai as I wait for what he has to say. “I changed in the meantime. The thing that was so important to me when I first wanted it wasn’t as vital when it happened. God had changed my heart in the process.”
I wonder if that’s how it’ll be with the Bailey House and me.
“I liked the art classes,” he said. “I can see how I needed them to make me a better artist. But when it turned out that what I asked God for over and over wasn’t the right thing for me after all.” (pp. 211-212)

I would have to say that Jackie Donovan is one of my favorite fictional characters of late. She did exasperate me at times with her choices, but she had to learn for herself, and she ultimately did see things for how they really were. I loved the conclusion of this novel, and do hope that Ms. Wisler does reprise these characters in future novels. I also think the recipes at the end of the book – for The Bailey House Lemon Cookies, L.J.’s Cornbread with Bacon, and Sheerly’s Tomato Pie – all sound yummy, and I am sure there will be delectable smells in our kitchen in the near future!

I really LOVED this book! I read it while I was in Nashville, Tennessee for a half marathon there. It was great to read while on vacation; it would have been ideal to have read it on a beach! I love Alice’s writing style – as I knew I would – and I look forward to reading other titles in her catalog. I highly recommend this book; it is a terrific and fun read!

You can order this book here.

This book was published by Bethany House Publishers and generously provided by the author.

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